The City of Johannesburg has – through HSBC Bank – arranged loan finance from Brazil’s BNDES Export Credit Agency (ECA) to fund the purchase of the 143-strong Rea Vaya bus fleet required for phase 1A of the bus rapid-transit system, set to start operations on August 30.

Read on page 10 of this edition of Engineering News about the loan being arranged on behalf of affected taxi operators who will form the proposed bus operating company for this phase of the BRT system. Phase 1A of the system will displace 575 taxis.

The cost of the full phase one is estimated at R10-billion, with R3,5-billion going to infrastructure, R2-billion to the acquisition of buses, and R5-billion for the contracts with bus operators. The BRT system’s main routes will see buses run in dedicated lanes, stopping at specially designed stations, located roughly every 750 m along the way. A partnership between Scania Southern Africa and Marcopolo South Africa is supplying the 143 BRT buses, which are all imported from Brazil.

Steelmaker ArcelorMittal South Africa expects to return to profitability in the third quarter of the year. Read on page 34 of this edition of Engineering News of ArcelorMittal South Africa CEO Nonkululeko Nyembezi-Heita’s view that steel stock replenishing is under way.

Nyembezi-Heita cautioned, however, that the operating environment remained challenging and that, despite the better results expected in the third quarter of the year, it did not expect to see “any meaningful recovery” in 2009, when the power, rail and harbour tariff increases would take their toll.

The steelmaker reported a net loss of R848-million for the first half of the 2009 financial year, compared with a net profit of R4,57-billion the year before. The company’s revenues for the six months ended June 30, 2009, fell by 35%, to R12-billion, compared with R18,4-billion the year before.

Russian oil and gas exploration company Sintezneftegaz has discovered what could be a major natural gas reservoir off the coast of Namibia. According to Namibian Ministry of Mines and Energy Petroleum Commissioner Immanuel Mulunga, the find could be a “gas resource of up to 14-trillion cubic feet”.

Read on page 24 of this edition of Engineering News that the strike was made in the northern part of Namibia’s continental shelf and forms part of the Kwanza-Cameroon oil- and gas-bearing province.

Also in this edition, ahead of Murray & Roberts’ August 26 results presentation, is a reiteration of the South African construction firm’s winning of a 1,8-billion UAE dirham (around  R3,7-billion) contract in Abu Dhabi. It will construct the St Regis hotel and residences on Saadiyat island for the Tourism Development and Invest-ment Company, the contract starting this month for completion in 2011.

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